NYU Tires of Modernism; May Want Towers in Its Parks

In eyeing space for expansion, New York University is considering infill development in the modernist-style “tower in the park” portions of campus, specifically the I. M. Pei-designed Silver Towers site near Washington Square Park, The Villager reports today.

The university, wanting to expand their programming space and put more of its students in its housing, is grappling with the exciting task of adding about 6 million square feet of space at a time when the city’s real estate prices and community resistance to large-scale development seem to be at all-time high.

So building in the superblocks, built in the days when planners looked warmly upon large-scale projects that put up tall towers surrounded by green space in the middle of a dense urban fabric, could be a way to avoid the inevitable fights that would come when building outside of its campus, NYU seems to be reasoning. The Villager reports that NYU has the available development rights to build about 3 million square feet in the university’s “core” around Washington Square Park, a big chunk of the total amount it wants to develop. (The Observer sat down with NYU president John Sexton earlier this year to talk about the expansion.)

One wonders how the Greenwich Village community would welcome such development—Jane Jacobs and others fought the original superblocks when they first were built, though Jacobs and her disciples also like the concept of dense (low-rise), diverse, retail-lined development that runs along the streets. NYU Tires of Modernism; May Want Towers in Its Parks